Recently, we invited our newsletter subscribers to ask our new contributing editor Michaela Haas anything they’d like. And ask, you did! Here are her responses.
Michaela, glad you joined RTBC. Your life experiences have given you quite an adventure. Can you please share a story about growing up in Bavaria?
My grandma used to send me down the road twice a week with my milk cans to our farmer neighbor. I’d pick up the milk, still warm, straight from the cow, and carefully balance my cans on the way home. A dreaded chore then, a fond thought now. I thought my little Catholic village was so small and boring back then. I dreamed of visiting other countries and exotic lands from an early age. Now, after having traveled so much, I have much appreciation for nature and the quiet rhythm of rural life.
What types of stories are you looking forward to covering?
I hope to cover stories that make a difference, inspire people and highlight creative ways and solutions to address a pressing problem.
Can you tell us about a story you reported and why it mattered that you reported it?
I love the recent story about Krysia Paszko, the 17-year-old high school student who started a fake cosmetics shop to help abuse survivors. She gives me hope. I was very impressed by her intelligence, her age, the calm way she spoke about managing a very challenging initiative. It matters because women in other countries have reached out to her to copy the idea.
What is your favorite classic German song from your early adult years? (My favorite: “99 Luftballons”)
I definitely listened to “99 Luftballons” but also The Scorpions. Remember “Wind of Change”?
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Finish this sentence: When I’m not reporting I’m…
…in the ocean with my rottweiler.
What’s something great that happened to you in the past month?
I got hired by RTBC! Also, I and my entire family are fully vaccinated and we can hug each other again.
Who is your favorite sports team?
The U.S. women’s soccer team. Go, Megan!
What career (and life) advice would you give to a young African journalist?
I’m going to let another one of RTBC’s new contributing editors, Tolu Olasoji from Nigeria, answer this one:
Hi there, Tolu here.
As an African journalist, be wary of getting stuck in perpetuating the popular narratives about Africa: violence, bad governance, poverty and the like. A little scratch beneath the surface would reveal to you more interesting and intriguing storylines — you must have read a few on RTBC.
Also, while it’s cool to admire the works of (senior) colleagues you’re fond of, never hero worship. In my seven years of doing journalism, I’ve found so many young African journalists fall into this trap. It’s either they do not see beyond their mentors/heroes or they get “gatekept” without even knowing.
One more: Prioritize taking breaks.
What are some challenges the next generation will face and how can we solve them?
Climate change, biodiversity and plastic pollution. We can solve them by radically rethinking how we use our resources.
What in your life are you most grateful for?
If you could have lunch with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Janis Joplin. She was my favorite musician when I grew up.
What’s your favorite thing about your career?
My favorite thing is that I can take almost any topic I’m interested in, pick up the phone and call the smartest person who came up with the best idea. I mean, which other profession allows you to follow your curiosity so passionately? Even better, when I get a call or a letter from someone who read a solutions story and says, ‘I am going to try this in my community. Can you put me in touch with the person who invented it?’ My answer is always, ‘Heck yeah!’